(Photo via NPR)
Genre is an easy way to put artists in groups, but it’s not the most accurate or consistent way to think about music. I’ve always found that my favorite music is the more unexpected type, the kind of music that bridges gaps between genres. These crossover sub-genres seem to have surged in popularity recently, with swarms of unique artists joining disparate influences and modern instrumentation to create new sounds. Daniel Caesar is one of these innovators. He’s only 21 years old, but has released two EPs (the last one released in October), along with appearances on various other artists’ tracks.
His signature style is relaxed, a blend of many genres. Many of his songs are very laid-back; their beauty is in their simplicity. Take this piano-and-vocals cover of James Vincent McMorrow’s “Cavalier,” retitled “Chevalier:”
I was happy to hear this version of McMorrow’s song, as Caesar’s use of falsetto voice sounds so much like McMorrow. “Chevalier” is unique to Caesar, however. You can hear how he’s been influenced by jazz music in his piano part. Listen to the piano around 1:31 and 3:13-- this influence is especially apparent here. Here’s the original song, for comparison:
The beginning of his song, “Show No Regrets,” sounds more like gospel and R&B, which makes sense, as Caesar’s father is a gospel singer. However, later in the song, electric guitar is introduced, and it ends with a heavier, minute-long guitar solo. This track really exemplifies his ability to shift between genres; within one song, his sound transitions from gospel-style to rock.
Listen to “Show No Regrets” here:
Daniel Caesar is a truly unique musician, but he is a part of a growing group of musicians who use R&B as a basis in which to create new sounds. Personally, I have a strong affinity for a soft, minimal kind of music, so I fell in love with Caesar’s music upon first hearing it. I want to leave you with the song that was my first exposure to Daniel Caesar, a beautiful collaboration with him and River Tiber:
DISCLAIMER: As is always the case with art, not all of the songs released by this artist are school-appropriate. We strive to support the EWHS School Vision through Driftwood Literary Magazine: to “empower students to achieve educational excellence while demonstrating integrity and compassion through responsible citizenship.” Explicit music will not be linked through Driftwood; the purpose of this column is to appreciate the artistic value of different types of music. Please exhibit maturity if listening to explicit songs, and refrain from affiliating any inappropriate work with our magazine.
The first Cormac McCarthy novel I read was his newest, The Road, which follows a man and his son as they journey across a desolate, post-apocalyptic America in search of a better life. I loved it immediately, with its prose that was just as stark and plain as the world the characters navigated, its audacious disregard for traditional punctuation, and its refusal to provide narration of characters’ thoughts, even though it was written in first person.
So I read more of McCarthy's books, everything from No Country for Old Men, with its almost comically-nihilistic dialogue (“When I came into your life your life was over. It had a beginning, a middle, and an end. This is the end.”) to Outer Dark, a novel bursting with elaborately-bizarre metaphors (“A far crack of lightning went bluely down the sky and bequeathed him in an embryonic bird’s first fissured vision of the world”).
But as much as I love Cormac McCarthy’s novels, I also hate them, because in spite of his talent at crafting complex protagonists and vivid settings and ornate bird-related metaphors, he can’t write women. His female characters are routinely flat, unrealistic, and sidelined to edges of each novel, defined entirely by the relationships to more prominent male characters. In an interview with Oprah, when asked why he never featured female characters, McCarthy said, simply, that “Women are tough…I don’t pretend to understand women. I think men don’t know much about women; they find them very mysterious.” Really, man? Considering that one of the main aims of literature is to explore the nature of humankind, so it seems a bit unbalanced – not to mention lazy – to focus on just half the species.
McCarthy has another novel in the works, one which, I’ve heard, prominently features a female character. Even if it doesn’t, though, I’ll probably still read it. What can I say? Sometimes I don’t understand myself. But then again, Cormac McCarthy wouldn't understand me, either.
11, March 2016
Hidden in the mass of Lake Union houseboats lies a woman both profound in
thought and in speech. A psychologist, author, and self-proclaimed “accidental
theologist” by the name of Lesley Hazelton is one of the lesser-known gems of
human genius in the Seattle metropolitan area. While I assume few of you recognize
the name, some of you may recognize her TED Talk, the Doubt Essential to Faith,
which holds over one million views between media outlets.
In the 14-minute monologue, Hazelton disorients the very root of human
moral code by question our devotion to deities, and how blindly we do so. Hazelton,
who confesses as a Jew by association, and an agnostic by choice, chooses to center
her argument on the story of the first Muslim, Muhammad, in the Qur’an. Her
message, however, is not only applicable to the Islamic faith, but uses it as a
platform to suggest why it might behoove us to incorporate more doubt into our
religious or secular lives.
As controversial as it may seem, you shouldn’t disregard her lesson from its
summary, as her reasoning is more compelling than any I’ve heard for devotion of
any kind. To Hazelton, doubt, is crucial to the understanding and personal relation
between the devotee and deity. It creates deepened comprehension of meaning
gained from teachings and texts, allowing the disciple to appreciate their devotion in
a new light—almost to the extent of enlightenment. Without it, we might follow a
higher being and appreciate it, while lacking true understanding. Questions, of
course, are the best way to get answers.
If you’re interested in watching this TED Talk, check it out here:
Lesley Hazelton also has a blog, which you can subscribe to here:
You may have heard of this new little device called Google cardboard (https://www.google.com/get/cardboard/) - it ranges from $5 to $20, and it's a wonderful, beautiful piece of simple (yet ingenious) technology. I recently was able to get my hands on one, and holy moly. Although it takes a little getting used to, it's really, really fascinating to just immerse yourself and your brain into places, worlds, or situations unlike you've ever seen. Even just a silly cardboard box combined with tech you probably already have (your phone) can make your jaw actually drop.
I tried out a few different apps, including Sisters (horror), Vrse (a wide variety) and the standard Google Cardboard (a little tutorial and some cool graphics) and they're already super impressive and cool. My favorite so far has been Vrse, where you can download different simulations and episodes, including stories, music video type things, and horror stuff. It's really, REALLY cool technology; I can't wait to see what more app designers and artists come up with, and I can imagine that it's going to get pretty crazy. Even though it's a little blurry and can be hard to focus on the images, you get used to it (and it's still real impressive for $5 and free apps). I definitely recommend trying it out and experencjng flying, exploring the Great Barrier Rief, riding a roller coaster, watching psychedelic images whizz past you, or actually be terrified (the horror ones are pretty scary) for such a cheap investment.
♡°˖✧ Thanks for reading! - Sav ✧˖° ♡